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Oil prices down with investor caution over sixth round of US-Iran talks

Oil prices fell on Monday as investors pause for the outcome of the sixth round of indirect US-Iran talks this week on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal and on lifting sanctions on Iran.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $71.32 per barrel at 06.09 GMT for a 0.79% loss after closing Friday at $71.89 a barrel.

American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was trading at $69.17 a barrel at the same time with a 0.64% decrease after ending the previous session at $69.62 per barrel.

From bullish sentiments last week, Brent oil price reached a record high level since May 2019 at $72.26 a barrel during the previous trading session. Likewise, WTI attained $70 a barrel, hitting the highest level since October 2018.

However, the stalemate in talks between the US and Iran is inducing market caution before the start of the sixth round of negotiations this week.

The US State Department spokesman Ned Price announced Thursday that hurdles still remain from the fifth round of talks that ended on Wednesday.

Expressing hope for the next round, Price said: “There is no lack of distrust between and among Iran and the other partners and allies with whom we’re working on this.”

Some experts say that Iran could hit its 3.8 million barrel-a-day capacity within 12 months of reaching a deal.

Over the past several weeks, Iran and other signatories to the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), have been engaged in marathon negotiations in the Austrian capital Vienna to revive the accord.

Former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018, and not only reimposed sweeping sanctions it had agreed to lift under the deal but imposed new ones in the hope that the penalties would bring Iran back to negotiations for what Trump hoped would be a “better” deal.

Iran resisted his efforts and instead stepped away from the nuclear restrictions it agreed to under the accord as regional tensions between the US and the Islamic Republic soared.

The JCPOA is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1, comprising the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — China, France, Russia, the UK and the US — plus Germany together with the European Union.

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